Disclaimer: I am not, nor do I claim to be, a single parent. This post is merely to express my continuing awe at those who are.
Disclaimer 2: I am not encouraging single parenthood, but if I was, who cares? It’s not like a majority of single parents chose to be so, and those that did would probably welcome some help now and again. Far as I’m concerned they’re stronger people than I.
Okay, so this flight of fancy is not new to me. Every now and again K and I have to go our separate ways for work and the one who stays home jokingly takes the title of “single parent.” More often than not we’re away for a day or two, so we’re pretty well off. Sometimes, we’re gone for longer and the change to routine is enough to unsettle our calm.
Myself, I’m a Libra, I am not one to make decisions, but once I do and I have a routine, woe to they who change it. Routine change is next to regime change in my mind. So, I need to mentally prepare myself for these periods of singular parenting. I have the luxury of being prepared (as best I can) for being the sole adult in the house for a few days. My strength, of course, comes from the fact that I know it’s a finite period of time. I need to remind myself of this fairly often, first thing in the morning, trying to get the boys dressed for school, shower time, bed time, etc.
Certain trips are harder than others. Trips that span weekends are easier because you can do fun things. Trips during the week are obviously the opposite. Trips where your lovely wife sends you pictures of her fabulous looking meal and bottle of wine from British Airways first class lounge are in a class by themselves. There’s something particularly ugly about trips that start over the weekend, though. That’s the time when we’re all supposed to be together and you feel almost cheated when travel plans mean it’s easier to exit a day early. Monday seems harder too.
It’s these trips that get me thinking about single parents. I am constantly amazed by the fact that there are people who do this full time, not in spurts like myself or K. They do not get the singular luxury of knowing that the other parent will be back on Friday, or that they have a trip of their own coming up to balance things out. They are it, the parent, the homemaker, the teacher, and all. Bed time is their break, and even then, that’s just until the dishes have to be done, the laundry switched and lunches made for school tomorrow. They are awe inspiring to parents, and deserving of more respect they are from everyone. I have a few friends who are, or have become, single parents, most of them by no choice of their own. I do what I can to support them, but it falls so short.
Too often in our culture the single parent is vilified. They are equated with people who made a mistake, a poor decision or were reckless. More often, they were the stronger of a pair and survived the fight and willingly took on the mantle or guardian and provider. It gives me chills to think of doing it myself.
So, as I sit here, watching a movie and drinking a glass of wine worrying about what the week of singular parenting will bring, I raise my glass to the truly singular parents. You have my respect and awe.